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Home     Goa Guide     History of Goa

History of Goa

The first armed battle of independence of Goa from the Portuguese was fought by the Desais of Cuncolim in c.1583. The Portuguese missionaries used to regularly come along with soldiers to forcibly convert the villagers. This resulted in small skirmishes, with both parties suffering casualties each time. Finally, the villagers, angered after some missionaries desecrated a local church, slaughtered the invading party, including all the missionaries. This angered the Portuguese authorities, who formed a heinous plan, a method frequently used by the Europeans to capture the small Indian towns and villages.

They called the 16 chieftains of each ward (vado) of the Cuncolim village to the Assolna fort to formulate a peace pact with the villagers. At the fort, the Portuguese brutally killed the unassuming chieftains, but luckily, two of the chieftains jumped from the fort into the Arabian sea and swam away to safety (presumably to Karwar), and managed to tell the tale. After this slaughter, the villagers were left without leaders. Taking advantage of this impasse, the Portuguese began confiscating the land of the locals refusing to convert to Christianity, and throwing bread dipped in pork on the houses, forcing the members of those houses into Christianity.

To avoid demolition of the village temple, the villagers shifted the idol of the village goddess Shantadurga, to an area outside the Portuguese control, deep in the forests of Fatorpa. In the present day, the annual festivals of Sattreo, Dussehra and Jatra (fair) are celebrated by both the Hindus and Catholics alike, in an outstanding example of syncreticism. Twelve vangddi (leaders representing the 12 groups of villagers of the temple), perform most of the rites these festivals. Of these twelve vangddi, three are of Catholic religion, as there are no Hindus that remain of those wards. Today, a small chapel rests at the spot where the Shantadurga temple originally stood in the village.

Similar unrecorded battles have been fought in most of the villages and settlements all around Goa. This finally led to the stopping of the inquisition, and Goa remained peaceful under the Portuguese, though suppressed, and forced to study in either Portuguese language or Marathi language of neighbouring Maharashtra.

A lot of people fled the inquisition and suppression, and there are large Goan colonies in Karwar and Mangalore in Karnataka.

When India became independent in 1947, Goa remained under Portuguese occupation. The Indian government of Jawaharlal Nehru insisted that Goa along with a few other minor Portuguese holdings be turned over to India. Portugal, however, refused. France, which had also had small enclaves in India (most notably Pondicherry, see French India), gave them up. Portugal, however, amended its constitution so that Goa became a Portuguese province and refused to surrender it.

In 1954, a few unarmed Indians took over the tiny land-locked enclaves of Dadra & Nagar-Haveli. This incident led the Portuguese to lodge a complaint against India in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The final judgement on this case, given in 1960, was ambiguous in that the Portuguese had a right to the enclaves, but India equally had a right to deny Portugal access rights to the enclaves over its territory.

India's independence revamped the resistance groups that were operating in and around the territory. In 1955 a group of unarmed civilans, satyagrahis launched a peaceful agitation. The Portuguese resorted to military action which killed at least 22 Indians.

The Indian consulate in Goa was active until 1 September 1955, when it was closed down after Indian satyagrahis, who had taken over the fort at Tiracol and hoisted the Indian flag, were driven off by the Portuguese with a number of casualties. In that year Jawaharlal Nehru declared his government would not tolerate Portuguese presence in Goa. The Indian Government then instituted a blockade against Goa, Daman & Diu, in an effort to force the Portuguese to leave. Rather than leaving, the Portuguese government in Goa proposed to make Goa, Daman & Diu independent.

On December 19, 1961, Indian forces invaded the enclaves, despite a decision by the United Nations General Assembly that the people of Goa would determine their own future. Named Operation Vijay, twenty Indians and 17 Portuguese were killed in the fighting, which lasted twenty-six hours. Goa became an Territory of the Republic of India; it was admitted to Indian statehood in 1987.

After annexation to India, the area was under military rule for five months, but the previous civil service was soon restored and the area became a federally administered territory. Goa celebrates its "Liberation Day" on 19 December every year, which is also a state holiday.


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